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Boethius, The Roman Philosopher

By Edited Oct 27, 2013 0 0

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius was a Roman philosopher and statesman. Born in Rome, Italy in around 480 A.D.

Boethius wrote philosophical and religious works that greatly influenced the thought of the Middle Ages. His translations into Latin of Aristotle's works on logic were a basis for the study of philosophy throughout most of the medieval period. Boethius attempted to reconcile Aristotelian ideas with Christian doctrines and has often been called the first Scholastic.

In 500 the seat of government of Theodoric, King of the Goths, had been fixed at Rome, and Boethius, who had gained his confidence, was appointed magister officiorum. In 510 he became consul, and later chief of the senate. But he lost the royal favour because of his firm stand for the rights of the Romans against the tyrannical rule of Gothic officials, and in particular because of his defence of Albinus and Symmachus, who had tried to assert Roman independence.

Boethius was accused of treason and imprisoned.

While in captivity he wrote his great work De Consolatione Philosophise, which expressed the view that through philosophy, man's mind can rise to knowledge of God. It was presented in a form of a dialogue between the writer and Philosophy, the latter teaching the mutability of all things save virtue. Its style is based on the best Augustan models, and the prose conversation is interspersed with verse passage.

De Consolatione was popular in the Middle Ages, and was translated into Anglo-Saxon by Alfred the Great, and into English by Chaucer, and also by Queen Elizabeth I.

The influence of Boethius's philosophy is to be seen in much medieval literature, notably in the French romance Le Roman de la Rose and Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde and The Knight's Tale. Boethius translated into Latin Aristotle's Categories and De Divinations. He also wrote a series of independent works on logic, arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, and music, which were largely used.

After a long imprisonment at Ticinum (now Pavia) in Italy he was executed, by the king's command without a trial, in about 524 A.D.



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